The first couple days after the birth of each of my kids was filled with lots of sleepy, contented, new baby snuggles. But fairly quickly we progressed to hours upon hours of inconsolable screaming, projectile vomitting, bloody stool, and constipation. The pediatrician I was seeing after I had my oldest told me that she had colic and that it would eventually pass. And not to worry about the vomiting, it was just a “laundry issue.” Thankfully I followed my parental intuition and realized that we were dealing with something a lot more serious than having to do several loads of laundry a day (she was constantly puking all over herself and us). I did some research and discovered that dairy and soy intolerance is quite common in newborn babies. The dairy and soy proteins that I was consuming were being passed to my baby in my breast milk. And so, as difficult as it was, I eliminated dairy and soy from my diet. It took about a week for the proteins that she was having trouble digesting to clear out of my system, but once they did the result was astounding! My once colicky baby turned into an angel baby. She was so calm and happy, the puking completely stopped (she didn’t even spit up anymore), and her diapers looked normal again – no more blood! Now this would be a pretty difficult diet to adhere to, say, to lose weight (which was a really nice byproduct of the diet. The baby weight melted right off of me!) But the realization that if I cheated on the diet then my baby was going to be screaming in pain for several days was a fantastic motivator!
The diet mostly consisted of eating fresh, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and meats. If you start looking at labels you will quickly realize that there’s soy in just about all processed foods these days. Many processed foods contain milk too, often referred to as casein, whey, butter, or cheese on a label. There are several products that I heavily depended on while on this diet.
- Earth Balance dairy/soy free butter substitute
- natural peanut butter (still double check the label, but most don’t have soy)
- Better Than Bouillon (you can also make your own, which I will discuss in a later post)
- almond milk
- coconut milk and coconut milk based treats like yogurt and ice cream
- some of the bread from Panera (and other local bakeries, or made my own)
- my favorite dairy/soy free loaf from Panera is the sun dried tomato basil
- not all of it is safe, you need to check the allergen listing
- extra crispy chicken and coleslaw from KFC (sometimes when you’re on a super healthy diet you just feel like a little fast food)
- nutritional yeast (common vegan trick that tastes a bit like cheese)
- avocados (really good alternative on sandwiches to replace the creaminess of cheese)
- Enjoy Life allergy friendly chocolate chips/chocolate chunks
Some items I like to keep on hand for snacks:
- hummus and carrots
- hard boiled eggs
- potato chips (check the label)
- dill pickles
- trail mix with mixed nuts and dried fruit
- baked oatmeal
The other secret to being successful on this diet is to really plan ahead with meals. I would usually make a big pot of chili or soup on Sunday and could eat leftovers of that throughout the week if I was in a pinch. The last thing you want is to find yourself hungry and have no safe, easy options to eat.
If you find yourself with a colicky baby (especially if the crying is accompanied by crazy amounts of spit up and worrisome diapers) I’d really encourage you to try eliminating dairy and soy from your diet. And as hard as I know it is, you need to eliminate for at least 2 weeks to start with to give it enough time for the proteins to clear out of your system and your baby’s before you can really tell if the diet is helping. It is so rewarding being able to nourish your baby without having to resort to the expensive and gross tasting/smelling specialty allergen formulas. You can do it!